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Yosemite National Park, CA

What to Do in Yosemite National Park In a park with an embarrassment of spectacular views, driving the Tioga Pass Road provides an opportunity to enjoy many of them. This backcountry alternative to crowded Yosemite Valley is a feast of granite peaks, jagged canyons and other glacier-created formations, but keep in mind that the road is open seasonally (normally late May to the end of October).

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Walk among the giants at Mariposa Grove . The majesty of this living cathedral is magnified by the sheer number of sequoias standing in silent witness to the centuries. The grove is one of Yosemite’s amazing things to see.

One of Yosemite's most beloved spots is Tuolumne Meadows . Mountain fields are sprinkled throughout the park's middle and upper elevations, but Tuolumne is particularly breathtaking. Spend the day hiking, horseback riding or—in summer—gazing at nature's dazzling display of wildflowers.

Practically nothing can prepare you for the jaw-dropping views of Yosemite landmarks as seen from the perspective of Glacier Point . If you're seriously fit you can hike to the point (the elevation gain is a strenuous 3,200 feet), but most make the journey by bus, enjoying bracing high-country scenery along the way.

Yosemite Valley is the park's most-visited section, and driving around during the busy summer season can be a bit of a distraction. The perfect solution? Take a guided tour of the valley's domes, pinnacles and waterfalls (in an open-air tram from May through late October, a heated motorcoach the rest of the year) and focus on getting that picture-postcard shot.

If you enter the park via SR 41 you'll drive into the Wawona Tunnel, blasted through 4,230 feet of solid rock in 1933. Emerging from the tunnel's eastern end, be sure to stop at one of Yosemite's most stunning viewpoints—a panorama that takes in thick forest, steep granite cliffs and lofty El Capitan .

Make reservations, get dressed up and have dinner in The Ahwahnee Dining Room at The Ahwahnee , a historic Yosemite hotel that first opened its doors in 1927.

There's probably no bad place for sunset watching in Yosemite, but Olmsted Point is one of the best. Along Tioga Pass Road just west of Tenaya Lake, this vista overlooks a dramatic landscape dominated by Cloud's Rest and Half Dome , two imposing granite formations.

A really scenic (and pretty easy) Yosemite hike is the round-trip, 5-mile trek from O'Shaugnessy Dam to the base of Wapama Falls, in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Prepare to get wet during the spring months when the cascading waters rage.

Finally, sign up for one of park's many organized activities—everything from campfire sing-a-longs to sunrise photography walks to a snowshoe hike under a full moon. They'll help you get the most out of this spectacular slice of Sierra Nevada wilderness.

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Yosemite National Park, CA

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